Seat Ibiza FR 1.9 TDI 130PS
14 June 2006
Small hot hatches are big fun. Compact dimensions, big performance and entertaining handling inject a healthy dose of amusement into even the dullest of drives. Fine for the weekend, but for serious business, common preconceptions damn hot hatches as blunt tools.
There are exceptions. Back in '02 Skoda introduced a vRS version of its Fabia, Skoda unusually opted for diesel, creating in one low BIK stroke something all the more appealing for business users.
Category: Hot hatch Price: £7407-£15,222
Per month: £307 Key rival: Skoda Fabia vRS
The new Ibiza FR's a convincing GTi. A deep front bumper, twin rear pipes, bigger alloys and compulsory rear spoiler identify the FR from lesser Ibizas.
The story's little different behind the wheel. A pair of grippy sporty armchairs hold firm through the twisties, while leather-wrapped wheel and gear lever add to the FR experience. What doesn't, is the abundance of cheap-feeling plastic.
The most impressive part of the package lies under the bonnet. 130PS doesn't sound much, but packing 40% more torque than its 150PS petrol turbo brother, the diesel feels the quicker. Thanks to a sixth gear (one more than the petrol) it's also more comfortable carrying out motorway duties.
Those big wheels equal grip, luckily there's standard traction control to prevent tyre-shredding getaways. Unfortunately the steering tugs violently under heavy acceleration. The steering also lacks feel, but overall the Seat's capable and fun if not top of the hot-hatch class for handling.
Fuel consumption slips under most fleet managers' radar and BIK attracts a low 18% while insurance is 4 groups lower than the petrol, all of which helps to make up for the higher P11D. J